Just after the All-Star break, the Diamondbacks face two critical decisions.
According to manager Kirk Gibson, the starting rotation will be revamped but the outfield will get very crowded.
That’s because injured outfielders A. J. Pollock and Mark Trumbo are ready to be activated. Not so soon, Gibson told reporters before Tuesday’s game with the Miami Marlins in Chase Field.
For his part, Trumbo is advancing through his rehabilitation schedule. Out since April 24 with a stress fracture in his left foot, the 28-year-old native of Anaheim started with the Diamondbacks’ rookies in the Arizona Rookie League and progressed to Triple-A Reno, his current location. Though he hammered a grand slam Monday night and, according to Gibson, is running well, Trumbo is still a few weeks away.
Pollock, who suffered a broken right hand when hit by the Reds’ Johnny Cueto on May 31, is expected to begin baseball-related activities by late July.
The return of these two puts Cody Ross, Endar Inciarte and David Peralta in a battle for one, possibility two roster spots. For now, the D-backs will ride out the first half of the season with the present set of players.
“Trumbo has not played a full nine innings during his rehab and we will not rush him,” Gibson said. “We think Pollock will come back around August 1 and we, at this point, know our options.”
As a result of the recent trade of Tony Campana to the Angels, the outfield population was reduced by one. Asked about the reasoning to keep Peralta and Inciarte and deal Campana, Gibson said he had no hand in the transaction.
“I didn’t make the move and (general manager Kevin Towers) makes the decisions,” Gibson said. “Tony had a nice run here and we wish him well.”
When Trumbo and Pollock return, the outfield would have a look which started the season. That would include Pollock in center and flanked by Trumbo in left and Gerardo Parra in right. Due to Ross’ current $26 million contract over three years, he is not going anywhere.
Because Peralta continues to draw solid reviews and delivers strong production, the odd man out appears to be Inciarte. Starting slowing, Inciarte hit .293 over his last 13 games and that was before Tuesday night’s game with Miami. Bounced around in Gibson’s lineup, Inciarte lead-off Tuesday but generally hits near the bottom of the order.
The rise of Peralta has made it tough for Gibson to rest the native of Valencia, Venezuela. Prior to Tuesday’s game, in which he was not in the starting line-up, Peralta was hitting .386 over his previous 12 games. That includes a .331 average in 32 games since his recall June 1 from Double-A Mobile.
“(Peralta) has a good swing to the ball, he doesn’t dip his shoulder and is aggressive,” was Gibson’s observation. “He recognizes the ball very well and is hard to defense.”
With the roster construction at 12 pitchers and eight starters, that leaves five players on the bench. One would include the back-up catcher and among the five, Gibson also must figure out what to do with reserve infielder Cliff Pennington, on the DL since June 3 with a sprained ligament in his left thumb.
Still, the crowded outfielder population will likely hold at five. From the All-Star break, that’s when Towers and Gibson play musical chairs for the precious outfield slots.
For the month of June, the Diamondbacks announced infielder Jake Lamb and right-handed pitcher Aaron Blair were named players-of-the-month.
With Double-A Mobile, Lamb hit .368 (33-for-95) with 11 doubles, four triples, four home runs and drove in 20 runs. At 23-years-old, Lamb, out of Seattle, was drafted in the sixth round of the 2012 draft and played for the University of Washington.
For Advanced-A Visalia, Blair went 3-0 with a 3.06 ERA in five starts. His 39 strikeouts during the month was tops in the California League and his 117 strikeouts on the season leads all Minor League pitchers.
A native of Las Vegas, Nev., Blair was selected in the Competitive Balance Round-A (36th overall) in the 2013 draft, and pitched for Marshall University.